If you think this classic furled-roof temple looks familiar, take a look at a 10-yen coin, and you’ll see why. One of Japan's most famous temples, and a World Heritage Site, the image of its 11th century Phoenix Hall graces the coin and the 10,000-yen note.
The reason why this Buddhist temple is so famous is because it is one of the few remaining examples of Heian-era architecture, a textbook example of Japanese perfection.
Take a tour to see the famous statue of Amida and 42 Bodhisattvas from the 11th century. The surrounding gardens are also justly famous, with tranquil water gardens reflecting the temple's surrounding pines.
Review by Emily P, November 2012
While not as critical as a visit to Nara or Kyoto, the town of Uji is worth a stop. Walking from the train station to the Byodo-in or Pheonix hall, it's easy to discover uji's claim to fame - tea. Pick up a souvenir tea canister as you pass shop after shop. The temple itself is quite impressive. As we were there in winter, it's also rather deserted. There is a smallish museum with some old Buddhas. After a visit to the temple, walk to the river and cross the bridge for a quiet stroll in the park. Uji makes for a great retreat from the crowds of Kyoto and a great opportunity to stretch you legs on the way to or from Nara. It is shockingly undercommercialized. A great look at a small town on an itinerary that can be quickly loaded with big cities.